Archive for the food Category

Morning Coffee.

Posted in coffee, cooking, food, Uncategorized on January 29, 2010 by debord

I love coffee. I stopped smoking years ago, but my caffeine addiction remains in full force, and my preferred delivery method is a cup of fresh-ground drip coffee. I’m relatively finicky about how I make it, and what I brew, though my standards are probably bourgeois by many coffee aficionados’ standards. Here’s my daily coffee liturgy.

Beans

I use good, fresh ones, but am a complete cheap skate; that’s why I order them from Coffee Bean Direct. They roast and pack your beans immediately before shipment – and are a local business to me, so I get fresh-roasted beans delivered within 24 hours.  The difference is palpable. I buy my whole beans by the 5 pound bag, and pay about $6/lb., including shipping, for a wonderful city roast Columbian. You’ve got to keep the beans air tight after you open them; I have one counter-top canister that is airtight, and put the rest in a ziploc in the freezer.

Grinder

A burr grinder is de rigueur. I use the Baratza Virtuoso and have zero complaints. It’s not the fastest grinder in the world, but that prevents the burrs from getting too hot and screwing up the flavor of your grind. Regardless of which burr grinder you use, always ‘brush the teeth’ of the burrs with a small wire brush (usually included) every few pound of beans you grind; the oils from the coffee buildup become bitter over time.

Coffee Maker

I use a Cuisinart 12-cup Brew Central. Yes, in an ideal world, I’d love to get a Technivorm, but I haven’t got an extra $275 sitting around at the moment. The Cuisinart gets the water hot enough, and is the best mass-market machine I’ve used. I do turn off the maker shortly after the brew has finished, as the warmer gets waaay too hot and cooks (and therefore bitters) the coffee. I still need to get a thermal carafe to keep the joe hot.

Misc.

  • Yes, those gold filters do produce a better flavor than paper filters. I recently switched back to them and truly notice a difference in the depth of my brew. Paper filters, no matter how well made, don’t brew as flavorful of a cup. (Note: my brother mentioned to me after reading this that there are compounds in French Press/Gold filtered coffee that raise cholesterol by up to 20%, and are removed by the use of a paper filter. I’m defering to the paper filter.)
  • Wash, wash, wash your coffee equipment after every use. Thoroughly. I put my carafes and filter baskets (I have two) as well as the gold filters through the dishwasher. If you don’t have one, use hot water and plenty of Dawn detergent (cuts oils better than other brands) to thoroughly clean your gear. Years ago, an innkeeper told me the secret of his great coffee was the cleanliness of the equipment that allowed him to make a delicious brew with even cheap beans.
  • Though I’m pretty thoughtful about how I make it at home, I still can deal with the down-and-dirty “we are happy to serve you” bilge from an NYC deli when necessary. It’s like being into home brewing but still liking the occasional PBR.
  • I love espresso, but it ain’t the same as good ol’ drip.
  • French press doesn’t do it for me. I don’t know why, I just don’t like it as much. It’s probably psychosomatic.
  • People rail on message boards about how you much grind within minutes of brewing. They’re right, the flavor is better; but if I have to get up at some unholy hour (i.e. before 8am), nothing helps to lure me out of bed than the smell of the coffee brewing. So, sorry folks, I’m grinding the night before, setting the timer and not missing my train.
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NJ Indian Food

Posted in food, indian, new jersey on February 23, 2009 by debord

To the uninitiated, New Jersey may appear to be a culinary wasteland. Scratch under the surface. Leave the Turnpike. You’ll be shocked at the wonders you find.

To wit: today I felt like I hit the progressive jackpot of indian food at this little joint, Balaji Express, [note: website is chock full o’ broken links].  Promptly raved about it on Yelp where it didn’t even have a listing yet.

Tonight: Killarney’s Publick House in Hamilton. Stay tuned.

More SD Taco Shop obsession

Posted in food with tags , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by debord

On a recent trip back to San Diego, I discovered what may be my favorite new taqueria. El Tio Alberto is certainly nothing fancy – settled in the sidebar (literally) of a tiny strip mall with a defunct Kragen, I would have never seen it if it weren’t for Yelp.

The prices are cheaper than the Roberto’s across the street, and the terribly kind woman running the place with her husband is making the food herself. And it tastes like it; the carne asada is lean and flavorful, the chicken enchiladas – oh, man, you’ve just got to taste it. The catch: they’re not a 24-hour operation, since it’s small and family run. Check the hours on Yelp.